Legislative Update – Looking Forward to an Exciting Year
Posted: Monday, December 3rd, 2012
2013 promises to be an interesting year in the California legislature, both generally and quite possibly for science education. One major item expected to be debated during this legislative season is the issue of the statewide assessment system. Last year, AB 250 (Brownley) called for Superintendent Torlakson to deliver his recommendation for the re-authorization of the statewide assessment system to the legislature in the fall of 2013. While we have not yet seen the final recommendation, CSTA has been following the preparations for the recommendation quite closely.
As a part of the process of developing the recommendation, the California Department of Education has held public meetings, formed a work group of education stakeholders that included classroom teachers (even one science teacher!), provided updates to and received input from the State Board of Education, conducted a survey, and accepted comments via email. CSTA participated in the public meetings, attended and commented during several of the work group meetings, has commented during State Board of Education meetings, and sent the word out to members about the survey and email option. All of this activity was made possible because of the support of CSTA members. For a complete listing of activities and the requirements for assessment outlined in AB 250 visit http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/sa/ab250.asp. There you will also find a very informative (and lengthy) webcast archive of a public information meeting that was held by CDE staff on October 1, 2012 on the subject of the state-wide assessment system.
There is a good deal of confusion, rumor, and speculation around the future assessment system for California. However, until the legislature acts, there are no set in stone assessment plans for the replacement of the STAR assessment system in California. That said, all signs point to California moving forward with the implementation of the Smarter Balanced (SBAC) assessments. The SBAC assessments will begin in the spring of 2015 and will cover the assessment of the Common Core ELA and Math Standards (collectively CCSS) in grades 3-8 and 11. It is important to note that the SBAC assessments do not address any other subjects, not science, not history, nothing but Common Core ELA and Math Standards.
As to the future of CAHSEE, End of Course exams in science and other subjects, testing in grades other than 3-8 and 11, and the testing of science in grades 3-8 and 11, that is what will be determined in the coming months in the legislature. If this subject is of interest to you, please stay tuned for updates from CSTA in California Classroom Science. If you are not a current member of CSTA, we encourage you to join today, as your support will make a big difference in CSTA’s ability to participate in a meaningful way in the assessment conversation. It is not just the support that will come financially from your dues, it is the support with the number of members that we will be able to tout as our voice representing.
Posted: Wednesday, October 12th, 2016
by Jessica Sawko
In June 2016 California submitted a waiver application to discontinue using the old CST (based on 1998 standards) and conduct two years of pilot and field tests (in spring 2017 and 2018, respectively) of the new science assessment designed to support our state’s current science standards (California Next Generation Science Standards (CA-NGSS) adopted in 2013). The waiver was requested because no student scores will be provided as a part of the pilot and field tests. The CDE received a response from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on September 30, 2016, which provides the CDE the opportunity to resubmit a revised waiver request within 60 days. The CDE will be revising the waiver request and resubmitting as ED suggested.
At its October 2016 North/South Assessment meetings CDE confirmed that there will be no administration of the old CST in the spring of 2017. (An archive of the meeting is available at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/ai/infomeeting.asp.) Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
by Carol Peterson
1) To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Google has put together a collection of virtual tours combining 360-degree video, panoramic photos and expert narration. It’s called “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” and is accessible right from the browser. You can choose from one of five different locales, including the Kenai Fjords in Alaska and Bryce Canyon in Utah, and get a guided “tour” from a local park ranger. Each one has a few virtual vistas to explore, with documentary-style voiceovers and extra media hidden behind clickable thumbnails. Ideas are included for use in classrooms. https://www.engadget.com/2016/08/25/google-offers-360-degree-tours-of-us-national-parks/. Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 CSTA Awards for Distinguished Contributions, Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, 2014 and 2015 PAEMST-Science recipients from California, and the 2016 California PAEMST Finalists. The following individuals and organizations will be honored during the 2016 California Science Education Conference on October 21- 23 in Palm Springs. This year’s group of awardees are truly outstanding. Please join us in congratulating them!
Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award
The Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to science education in the state and who, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching. This year’s recipient is John Keller, Ph.D. Dr. Keller is Associate Professor, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Co-Director, Center for Engineering, Science, and Mathematics Education, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In her letter of recommendation, SDSU science education faculty and former CSTA board member Donna Ross wrote: “He brings people together who share the desire to make a difference in the development and implementation of programs for science teaching. Examples of these projects include the Math and Science Teaching Initiative (MSTI), Noyce Scholars Program, Western Regional Noyce Initiative, and the Science Teacher and Researcher (STAR) program.” Through his work, he has had a dramatic impact on science teacher education, both preservice and in-service, in California, the region, and the country. He developed and implemented the STEM Teacher and Researcher Program which aims to produce excellent K-12 STEM teachers by providing aspiring teachers with opportunities to do authentic research while helping them translate their research experience into classroom practice. SFSU faculty member Larry Horvath said it best in his letter:“John Keller exemplifies the best aspects of a scientist, science educator, and mentor. His contributions to science education in the state of California are varied, significant, and I am sure will continue well into the future.” Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Peter A’hearn
NGSS is a big shift. Teachers need to learn new content, figure out how this whole engineering thing relates to science, and develop new unit and lesson plans. How could NGSS possibly make life easier?
The idea that NGSS could make our lives easier came to me during the California State NGSS Rollout #1 Classroom Example lesson on chromatography. I have since done this lesson with high school chemistry students and it made me think back to having my own students do chromatography. I spent lots of time preparing to make sure the experiment went well and achieved the “correct” result. I pre-prepared the solutions and organized and prepped the materials. I re-wrote and re-wrote again the procedure so there was no way a kid could get it wrong. I spent 20 minutes before the lab modeling all of the steps in class, so there was no way to do it wrong. Except that it turns out there were many. Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graph of evening planet setting times by Dr. Jeffrey L. Hunt
Our evening twilight chart for September, depicting the sky about 40 minutes after sunset from SoCal, shows brilliant Venus remaining low, creeping from W to WSW and gaining a little altitude as the month progresses. Its close encounter within 2.5° N of Spica on Sept. 18 is best seen with binoculars to catch the star low in bright twilight. The brightest stars in the evening sky are golden Arcturus descending in the west, and blue-white Vega passing just north of overhead. Look for Altair and Deneb completing the Summer Triangle with Vega. The triangle of Mars-Saturn-Antares expands as Mars seems to hold nearly stationary in SSW as the month progresses, while Saturn and Antares slink off to the SW. Learn More…